My cat poops in my kids outside play area

by Nic

My cat has a litter box that he uses when he is in. I am home most of the day, and he comes in and out many times but spends most of his day outdoors. He doesn't leave our yard.

He poops under the kids swing set that is a dirt area covered with wood chips.

Should I put a litter box outside? I don't want to encourage other animals to use it.

Any suggestions? My kids and I love our cat but would like to get rid of the smell and they are not enjoying their yard.


My Thoughts: As litter box problems go, that's usually a tough problem to solve. Many of the solutions that I can think of or have heard of are not ideal, but I hope that I can at least give you some ideas that make sense.

Sandboxes, play areas, and gardens are often quite attractive to cats and make great litter boxes. Unfortunately, that's not the intended use!

The trick then, is to make the area less attractive (repel), or restrict access, and possibly offer an alternative for your cat (although outdoor boxes have their own challenges). I'm assuming that restricting your cat isn't a practical option, so we'll have to go with some form of repellent.

There are a number of solutions for keeping cats out of gardens, such as laying down chicken wire, lava rocks, or pine cones which cats don't like to walk on, which don't seem practical (or safe) for play areas.

There are also some natural cat repellent products (like lion dung), which usually stink up the place, may not be legal to use in some areas, and again, aren't practical for play areas. Fox or coyote urine (Shake Away)is a popular choice for gardens too, but again not something I'd recommend for play areas. Also, some of these don't stand up to the weather, so you have to reapply them often.

An outdoor litter box?

I would say that placing a litter box outside, without shielding it from other animals, has its problems. Also, if you don't protect it from the weather, you may find it to be quite the mess. After all,
the intention of litter is to absorb moisture.

You could build an enclosure for the outdoor box and put a cat door on it, but that still won't keep cat-sized or smaller animals from getting in, and doesn't guarantee that larger animals won't be lurking. Then again, the swing set area already IS a litter box from that standpoint!

Also, there's no guarantee your cat will not use the play area, even with a box right next to it. You could try a litter box placed next to the area and see how it goes (keeping in mind the caveats I've mentioned). If he likes the box better, he'll use that instead.

One big issue, though, is the attraction that the smell has for him. He may be drawn back to the spot if you don't get rid of the smell.

What about repellent?

If you can't restrict him from the area, you'll have to try to repel. The first step would be to remove as much of the odor as possible from that area so he's not drawn back to it.

After removing all of the solids, you can try Liquid Fence, or cover the area with a vinegar and water solution. I might even follow that up with baking soda and another water rinse.

You could grow some plants around the area that are known to repel cats, but he may just go around them or jump over them. You could try growing rosemary, rue, lavender, penny royal, or Coleus canina, and then spreading clippings over the area on a regular basis.

Next, here are some solutions that may help:

1. Cover the area when not in use. This means having to cover and uncover with something like a tarp. You'd also have to stake it or put some weight on it to keep it in place.

2. Use an electronic cat repellent product like CatStop -- ultrasound, set off by motion detectors does the trick. You may need more than one of these strategically placed. This is the most hands-off solution I can think of.

I hope that helps. Please let us know what you try, what works, and what doesn't so all of our readers can benefit.


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May 03, 2018
Leash training?
by: Kurt (Admin)

Converting an outdoor cat to an indoor cat is a difficult task, especially after 12 years. One option would be to see if you can leash train your cat. After regular walks together become a routine, that may be enough outdoor time to satisfy your cat.

May 03, 2018
Not that easy
by: Anonymous

Keeping your cat indoors sounds like an easy solution unless you have a cat like mine who constantly scratches and meows at the door to go out. Any solutions for that? By the way, my cat is over 12 years old.

Apr 18, 2012
Ummm... another alternative?
by: Anonymous

Did you know that the average life expectancy of cats that are allowed outdoors is significantly less than if they never went outside? Have you ever considered not letting your cat out?

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